Newswise — Portland, ME— Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) is part of a collaborative team, led by Duke University, that has received a total of $7.5 million to assess the risks that offshore wind energy development along the East Coast may pose to birds, bats, and marine mammals. BRI’s role is to lead the avian research components for the five-year project Wildlife and Offshore Wind (WOW): A Systems Approach to Research and Risk Assessment for Offshore Wind Development from Maine to North Carolina.

The Biden administration recently announced ambitious plans for offshore wind energy development along U.S. coasts, including the Gulf of Maine. The WOW project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which has awarded $13.5 million to fund four major projects that provide critical environmental and wildlife data to help inform environmentally responsible offshore wind development.  

“Research for this DOE grant will be conducted through our new Center for Research on Offshore Wind and the Environment (CROWE),” says David Evers, Ph.D., BRI’s director and chief scientist. “The new Center builds on more than a decade of studies led by scientists in our Wildlife and Renewable Energy Program. With the swift growth of the offshore wind energy industry on the horizon, it was time to focus on this area of research even more.”

BRI, headquartered in Portland, Maine, is one of 14 research institutions and organizations that will partner with Duke University on the WOW project. “BRI applauds the DOE and partner agencies for their forward-thinking funding of regional-scale, collaborative research to investigate the effects to wildlife and habitats from the first commercial-scale offshore wind farms in the United States,” says Kate Williams, co-lead investigator for the avian research team and director of BRI’s new Center. 

CROWE works collaboratively with BRI’s 12 other programs to carry out scientific studies that cross species lines and geographic boundaries. “The information we gain from interdisciplinary studies enhances our overall knowledge of wildlife and ecosystems that may be affected by the development of offshore wind energy,” says Williams.

For a map showing offshore leasing plans, click here: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Institutions and organizations on the WOW project include: Biodiversity Research Institute; Cornell University; Duke University (lead); Florida State University; New England Aquarium; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Rutgers University; Scientific Innovations; Southall Environmental Associates; State University of NY at Stonybrook; Syracuse University; Tetra Tech; University of St. Andrews; Wildlife Conservation Society; and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

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Since 2011, BRI’s Wildlife and Renewable Energy Program has been conducting studies related to wildlife and offshore wind energy development in the United States. The range of work includes: the seminal Mid-Atlantic Baseline Studies Project; developing monitoring protocols for how to integrate automated radio telemetry into pre- and post-construction monitoring plans for offshore wind farms; and providing technical support to the New York State Environmental Technical Working Group.

For more information about BRI’s new Center for Research on Offshore Wind and the Environment, visit: www.briwildlife.org/crowe.

The mission of Biodiversity Research Institute is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research and to use scientific findings to advance environmental awareness and inform decision makers.  For more information, visit: www.briwildlife.org

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